Sunday, February 17, 2008

Me vs. Ikea's Nickelbly doors

There are a couple of stores that I can't believe don't have locations in Manhattan proper. How is there no Target here? Ikea, where are you? Both have locations in Brooklyn (Ikea's is still under construction) but to get to either without a car is at least an hour trip. I can get to New Jersey faster than I can get to Brooklyn. Just sayin'.

So when it was time for an Ikea trip, I rented a Zipcar and was off to Paramus. This time I was looking for bookshelves - preferably something tall and thin to take advantage of my vertical lifestyle. Like Stew Leonard's, Ikea is set up not in aisles but in a maze pattern to encourage you to view everything (and to buy more). I don't mind though because their room setups always amaze me.

I made my way to the shelving area. I had come in expecting to buy the Besta shelving unit, but upon seeing it in person I didn't really like it. So instead I chose Billy shelves. One of the Billy displays had a Nickelby door on it, and I was immediately in love.

A little while later I was down in the self-serve furniture area getting my shelves and the doors. I loaded two shelves onto my pallet and headed over to the doors. They had two in stock, but one was broken. This meant another Ikea trip was in my very near future. The plastic protection was starting to peel off the other door but I took it anyway...and would come to regret that decision.

I got home and put the first shelf together -- pretty easy. I get a laugh out of Ikea's picture-only directions. Then I went to attach the door and realized it was missing hinges...groan.

A few days later I hit the Ikea in Elizabeth (where the staff is nicer but you get lost and maybe end up in Newark airport by accident on the way) and bought a second door, complete with hinges and instructions. I also went to customer service to get a set of hinges for my first door. They were nice enough to give me a set for free but when I got home I realized they weren't the right hinges. Ha!

Defeated, I finally called Ikea's customer service line where they opened a case for me and said they would try to get a set mailed to me. Awesome.

In the meantime, I could put one of the doors on. I followed the instructions -- attach the one hinge side to the door x 3. Check. Attach the other hinge side to the shelf x 3. Check. With the help of another adult, slide the door side into the shelf side until it clicks x 3. Friend S came over to help in exchange for some Haru's. He held the door while I tried to attach the hinge. No dice. The front slid in fine but the back part never clicked. I tried all 3 hinges but none went in. S asked to try so I held the door up while he gave it a go. Same problem. And I have to say, it really hurt my hands after a while.

We took a sushi break and upon return S wanted to try a new tactic. So we put the shelf on the ground and lined the door up on the floor. Finally, one of the hinges clicked. Eventually we got all three to click. But the high comedy was not over. We got the shelf into position and tried opening the door to make sure it worked. The door worked fine but every time we opened it the unit would start to tip forward! The door was proportionally heavier than the shelf (!!!) so opening it meant major tippage. Ikea provided a wall bridge for the top of the shelving but I plan to move these around so I didn't want to make tons of holes in the wall. Instead, my temporary solution is to have a block of wood under the radius of each door to keep it propped up. Snicker.

The end result.

Flash forward a couple of weeks -- I got a manilla padded envelope from Elizabeth, New Jersey the other day. Inside was my other set of hinges! I was pretty excited. I called friend S, who reluctantly agreed to come back and help me with the second door. Not wanting to spend hours with the hinges again, we tried our successful tactic - laying the shelf on its side with the door next to it. After an hour, our hands sore again, the damn things still hadn't clicked. We played around with the screw adjustments but it didn't work. It was incredibly annoying because we could see the catch slide into the proper position but every time we let go it would pop right back out. The instruction booklet makes it look so easy (one picture! slide and click!) but in real life clicking the hinges was harder than putting the shelf together.

Frustrated, I turned to the Internet. I went to the Ikea Fans forum and searched for helped. I found solace in the fact that other people were having the same issue but no one seemed to have a definitive answer. I tried searching for other types of door hinges on the forum and found an answer: use a damn hammer. I love it! Good old fashioned ingenuity. (Disclaimer: the forum actually said to use a mallet but I don't own one. And other respondents had used a hammer so I felt OK to try it. Obviously, hammers and glass don't mix very well so if you try this use caution.)

With the shelf and door still on the ground, we slid the first hinge into place. With S carefully pushing the button I tapped the hinge with a hammer a few times. S let go and we tested it -- finally the hinge had locked into place! After some finesse (more hammering) we got the other two to lock into place. The second unit shelving unit had the same tipping action as the first one, so another block of wood sits under the door's opening radius. I might have to perma-place these things.

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